1968 The Roar
R. L. Turner High School
Carrollton, Dallas Co., Texas
Faculty - English Teacher
Lawrence Ray Clayton, 62, of Abilene, rode out of this life at 2 a.m. Sunday,
Dec. 31, 2000, after a 14-month battle with ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease. The life
of the beloved dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Hardin-Simmons University
will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2001, at Behrens Chapel on the HSU
campus. The service will be under the direction of North's Funeral Home.
Officiating will be Bruce Ayres, HSU director of church relations, Dr. Ronnie
Prevost, HSU professor of church ministry and Dr. Jesse Fletcher, HSU
chancellor. The family will receive visitors in the foyer following the service.
Dr. Clayton was born April 21, 1938, in San Antonio. He graduated from Rusk High
School and Ranger Junior College. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree
from Stephen F. Austin State University, a master's degree from North Texas
State University and a doctorate degree from Texas Tech University in 1974.
During his 33-year tenure at HSU, he had served as dean, head of the English
department and English professor. His early teaching career included Rusk High
School, R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton and Texas Tech University.
He married Sonja Irwin of Albany on January 11, 1958. The daughter of early
Shackelford County settlers, she shared his love of ranching, research and
writing. He joined the Texas National Guard while in high school, attended
officer candidate school at Fort Benning, GA and was an Army veteran of the
Dr. Clayton was a former president of the West Texas Historical Association, the
Southwest Popular Cultural Association, the Texas Folklore Society and the
Western Literature Association. He was a founding board member of the Western
Heritage Classic in Abilene and was a member of the First Baptist Church in
His honors include the Cowboy Culture Award for Writing and Publishing from the
National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock; the West Texas Historical Association
Yearbook 2000 dedication; Ranger Junior College Distinguished Alumnus, 1976;
Distinguished English Graduate at Texas Tech University in 1988 and University
of North Texas in 1990. The HSU yearbook, Bronco, was dedicated to him in 1998.
Most recently he was honored by the announcement that the Dodge Jones Foundation
had endowed the Clayton Roundtable Room, which will be the signature feature in
the Elwin L. Skiles Social Sciences Building soon to be built on the HSU campus.
He is survived by his wife of Abilene; two daughters and son-in- law, DeLys and
Matt Mitchell of Abilene and Lea Clayton of Austin; and two grandchildren,
Amanda and Ashley Mitchell of Abilene.
A well-known author, Dr. Clayton was committed to documenting the life to
contemporary cowboys and preserving the history of ranching in Texas. His first
book, Clear Fork Cowboys (1985) depicted the lives of modern day cowboys from
the Big Country. Among his 30 other books are Historic Ranches of Texas (1993),
Watkins Reynolds Matthews: A Biography (1989) and Ranch Rodeos in West Texas
(1986). His wife's photographs illustrate several of his books. He wrote over
170 reviews, 130 articles and made numerous videos. At the time of his death,
Dr. Clayton had just finished collaborating with photographer Wyman Meinzer on
Ranching:The History and Current Operation of Sixteen Working Ranches in Texas,
which will be released this summer. Also soon to be released are Vaqueros,
Buckaroos and Cowboys; Roots of Texas Music to 1950; Works of Lawrence Clayton
and an annotated bibliography of the Clayton works in disk format.
According to Dr. Clayton, "I would most like to be remembered for my teaching
and for being a founder of the HSU Western Heritage Day." He also will be
remembered for his chuck wagon and legendary Dutch oven biscuits.
His passion for teaching touched the lives of generations of students, many who
followed in his footsteps and became teachers and writers. Always an advocate
for students, he believed unconditionally in the ability of his students to do
really well. His passion for western lore took him to the Nail ranch. Under the
tutelage of foreman George Peacock, Dr. Clayton experienced first hand the life
of a cowboy. With cameras over both shoulders and ape recorder in his saddlebag,
he captured the heart of the cowboy which he immortalized in books and articles.
Friends remember Dr. Clayton as "a man's man" who was equally comfortable day
laboring with cowboys or lecturing to a roomful of scholars. With his bolo tie,
black hat, work ethic, gentlemanly manners and disdain for committees, he
exemplified the cowboys whose lives he revered.
Spending time on the family ranch in Shackelford and Throckmorton counties was
one of the highlights of his life. A labor of love, the 120-year-old ranch
offered rest and relaxation to family and friends.
A teacher to the end, Dr. Clayton donated his body to the Texas Tech University
Medical Science Center. Memorials may be made to the Lawrence Clayton
Scholarship Fund, Southwest Popular Culture Association, attn: Dr.. Micheal
Schoenecke, Dept. of English, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, 79409;
Hendrick Hospice, 1242 N. 19th St., Abilene, TX 79601 or the Watt Matthews
Scholarship Fund, HSU, Abilene, TX 799698.
Honorary pallbearers will be working cowboy friends and HSU faculty, staff and
Tuesday, January 2, 2001
Tuesday, January 30, 2001
In Memory of Dr. Lawrence Ray Clayton
Senator Fraser offered the following resolution:
(Senate Resolution 130)
WHEREAS, The residents of Abilene lost a valued citizen with the death of Dr.
Lawrence Ray Clayton, the beloved dean of the College of Liberal Arts at
Hardin-Simmons University, on December 31, 2000, at the age of 62; and
WHEREAS, A native of San Antonio, Dr. Clayton was a graduate of Rusk High School
and Ranger Junior College; he furthered his studies by earning bachelor's and
master's degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University, an additional master's
degree from the University of North Texas, and a doctorate from Texas Tech
WHEREAS, This patriotic Texan was a veteran of both the Texas National Guard and
the U.S. Army and proudly served his country as an officer during the Berlin
WHEREAS, Dr. Clayton began his exceptional teaching career as an instructor at
his alma mater, Rusk High School; he then taught at
R. L. Turner High School in
Carrollton and Texas Tech University before joining the staff of
Hardin-Simmons University as an English professor in 1968; for 33 years this
esteemed educator touched the lives of countless students through his work as a
professor, department head, dean of the English department, and finally dean of
the College of Liberal Arts; and
WHEREAS, An accomplished author and historian as well, Dr. Clayton documented
the life of contemporary cowboys and the history of ranching in Texas; he held
membership in a host of related organizations, including the West Texas
Historical Association, the Southwest Popular Cultural Association, the Texas
Folklore Society, and the Western Literature Association, and he was a founding
member of the Western Heritage Classic; and
WHEREAS, This estimable gentleman authored more than 30 books, 170 reviews, 130
articles, and numerous videos; among his acclaimed titles are Clear Fork
Cowboys, Historic Ranches of Texas, Watkins Reynolds Matthews: A Biography, and
Ranch Rodeos in West Texas; his latest work, Ranching: The History and Current
Operation of Sixteen Working Ranches in Texas, is due to be released in summer
WHEREAS, Dr. Clayton was recognized as a Ranger Junior College Distinguished
Alumnus in 1976 and as a Distinguished English Graduate of Texas Tech University
and the University of North Texas in 1988 and 1990, respectively; he was also
the recipient of the Cowboy Culture Award for Writing and Publishing from the
National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock; and
WHEREAS, Highly regarded throughout the Hardin-Simmons campus, he was most
recently honored by the Dodge Jones Foundation with the endowment of the Clayton
Roundtable Room in the Elwin L. Skiles Social Sciences Building, which is being
built at the university; and
WHEREAS, The memory of this esteemed Texan will long endure through the lasting
legacy of achievement he leaves behind; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Senate of the 77th Texas Legislature hereby honor the life of
Dr. Lawrence Ray Clayton and extend sincere sympathy to his loved ones: to his
wife, Sonja Clayton; to his daughter and son-in-law, DeLys and Matt Mitchell; to
his daughter Lea Clayton; to his grandchildren, Amanda and Ashley Mitchell; and
to his many other relatives and friends; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the members
of his family and that when the Texas Senate adjourns this day, it do so in
memory of Dr. Lawrence Ray Clayton.
The resolution was read.
On motion of Senator Truan and by unanimous consent, the names of the Lieutenant
Governor and Senators were added to the resolution as signers thereof.
On motion of Senator Fraser and by unanimous consent, the resolution was adopted
by a rising vote of the Senate.
Senator Fraser was recognized and introduced to the Senate Dr. Clayton's wife,
Sonja; his daughter, Lea; his daughter and son-in-law, DeLys and Matt Mitchell;
his grandchildren, Amanda and Ashley Mitchell; Dr. Lanny Hall, President of
Hardin-Simmons University, and his wife, Carol; Terry Harlow, Executive Director
of Region XIV Education Service Center; Mr. and Mrs. Watson Moore,
Hardin-Simmons University; and Dr. and Mrs. Randy Armstrong, Hardin-Simmons
The Senate welcomed its guests and extended its sympathy.
Submitted by Edward Lynn Williams
Died. Dr. Lawrence Ray
Clayton, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Hardin- Simmons University and
member of the WWA, in Abilene, Texas, on Dec. 31, of complications from ALS. He
Clayton, American university dean, literary critic, biographer.
Clayton, Lawrence Ray was born on April 21, 1938 in San Antonio, Texas, United
States. Son of Donald Hudson and Loberta (Sawyer) Clayton.
Bachelor of Science, Stephen F. Austin University, 1960. Master of Education,
Stephen F. Austin University, 1964. Master of Arts, North Texas State
Doctor of Philosophy, Texas Tech University, 1974.
Teacher English, Rusk (Texas) High School, 1960-1965; teacher English, R.L.
Turner High School, Carrollton, Texas, 1965-1968; from instructor to assistant
professor, Hardin-Simmons U., Abilene, Texas, 1968-1971; from associate
professor to professor, head department English, Hardin-Simmons U., Abilene,
Texas, 1974-1980; dean College Arts and Sciences, Hardin-Simmons U., Abilene,
Texas, since 1980; director National Resources Institute, Hardin-Simmons U.,
Abilene, Texas, 1989-1992. Part-time instructor Texas Technology U., Lubbock,
Lawrence Ray Clayton has been listed as a noteworthy University dean, literary
critic, biographer by Marquis Who's Who.
Watkins Reynolds Matthews: A biography Watkins Reynolds Matthews: A biography
Watkins Reynolds Matthews: Biography of a Texas Rancher Watkins Reynolds
Matthews: Biography of a Texas Rancher
Benjamin Capps and the South Plains: A Literary Relationship (Texas Writers
Series) Benjamin Capps and the South Plains: A Literary Relationship (Texas
Benjamin Capps and the South Plains: A Literary Relationship (Texas Writers
Series) ( Benjamin Capps has been called the Texas author whose w...)
Historic Ranches of Texas ("The concept for this book was to choose typical,
Watkins Reynolds Matthews: A biography (Hardcover; Fine; Signed by Author; No
Dust Jacket; 123 pp...)
Horsing Around: Contemporary Cowboy Humor (Humor in Life and Letters Series) (
This collection by Lawrence Clayton and Kenneth W. Davi...)
President Taylor County History Commission, Abilene, 1988. First lieutenant
United States National Guard, 1956-1967. Member Texas Folklore Society
(president 1982), Western Literature Association (president 1990), West Texas
History Association (president 1993), Southwestern American Literature
Association, American Culture Association (Vice-President 1994), Texas
Association Deans Liberal Arts and Sciences (board directors since 1996), Texas
Cowboy Poets Association (board directors).
Avocations: photography, writing, ranching.
Married Sonja Irwin, January 11, 1958. Children: DeLys Clayton Mitchell, Sonja
Father: Donald Hudson Clayton
Mother: Loberta (Sawyer) Clayton
Spouse: Sonja Irwin
child: Sonja Lea Clayton
child: DeLys Clayton Mitchell Clayton
Albany Cemetery, Albany, Shackelford County,